Sunday, March 6, 2016

5/2 HCS Advisory Meeting

This week's meeting occurred at Hamilton Middle School and the principal Tipton Blish attended and gave a talk.  I arrived a few minutes early and was able to ask him about the annex discussion which has gone on all year. As I mentioned in the open thread, he indicated there was no update on any Annex possibilities for next year and that  Lincoln did not have space so it was not very likely to be used.  Since there really isn't anything obvious besides Lincoln near by that means its likely that the building will have to work one more year until Eagle Staff M.S. opens. He also indicated that he is still working on the issue so that does leave the window open for late changes.

During the formal talk Tip indicated that 2/3's of the students at HIMS are advanced learners either in Spectrum or HCC. From his perspective the teachers are doing an amazing job. After the split in a year, he expects that the program will stay at the building and in the north end roughly even groups of HCC students will go to all 3 middle schools (JAMS, HIMS REMS).  He also has no part in the feeder patterns and offered no updates on how the split is going to work out.

One nice part of having him there is that it was mentioned in the intro that the LA/SS alignment meetings were going on with participation from all middle schools except Hamilton.  That was news to Tip and he indicated he would follow up on it. So we'll see if something develops here. He then took a series of questions:

  • On Spectrum vs. HCC he feels the differences are mostly seen in skills i.e. more complex writing and higher expectations while the content can be similar.  In a followup he stressed that Middle School was also more about building skills versus specific content and that he expected differentiation to occur in each room.
  • He directly called out the narrative from Garfield parents that HIMS students are less prepared than WMS ones "I think its false"
  • Currently the district is projecting 1176 students next year.  That up about 80 students.
  • There was a secondary discussion about capacity where the fire code was brought up. Basically, the assertion is that the fire safety limits are way beyond the buildings current students and the fire department will not prevent overcrowding. 
  • There was also an interesting question about Spectrum Science which is not currently offered. The science teachers present mentioned that HCC science is 2 years ahead rather than advanced so there is no concept of honors science to do currently.
At the very end there was a quick update from the Ingraham representative. I asked a few questions here. They have decided to go with a honors physics option  for 10th grade rather than an AP one. One question which I asked but this was probably the wrong audience was whether there had been any though about how the Lincoln H.S. rollout would affect IB students. Hopefully, students will not be assigned out of their program but this is an issue to keep an eye on.


Anonymous said...

Mr Blish: Why doesn't HIMS have a Highly Capable Services Staff Representative on the Advisory Committee?

Benjamin Leis said...

Ah the lack of the staff rep was also brought up at the meeting. Hopefully that will be rectified now.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blish has known about the lack of a HIMS staff representative on the HCS AC since the beginning of the school year.

Anonymous said...

I am curious about the secondary discussion mentioned. Why will the fire dept not fine if they are overcapacity and not in compliance with fire codes? What ensures safety? I have been in the hallways during change of classes, and seen kids being knocked over. It is beyond belief crowded, cannot imagine another 80 or more next year. I can only imagine the chaos if they all tried to get out the same door during an emergency.

Anonymous said...

I'm relying on memory and rumors from years ago, but when my kid was pulled out of Lowell in July and sent to Lincoln, I thought it WAS the fire department that put an end to SPS's plans to cram the kids. SPS had already started building walls in classrooms, planning for that many kids, but is it not true that the fire department caused the mid-summer move? Maybe I misunderstood the comment about the secondary conversation. I could also read it as the fire department doesn't consider the projected enrollment to be a concern.

Anonymous said...

There was a secondary discussion about capacity where the fire code was brought up. Basically, the assertion is that the fire safety limits are way beyond the buildings current students and the fire department will not prevent overcrowding.

I think he meant that even though the school is crowded, the building has more than enough stairways and exits to evacuate that number of students, at least according to fire code. That was my understanding from a similar discussion years ago.

I was under the impression that the projected numbers at Lowell (pre Lincoln) would have violated the fire code for that building, plus they had no sprinkler system.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I thought I might have misunderstood. It sounds crazy given some of the hallway crowding, but I'm glad to know the fire department is taking things into consideration.

Anonymous said...

SPS is way to lax on fire and earthquake safety. Hallways in every school covered with flammables, every school with unsecured cabinets, doors on cabinets unsecured, items on top of cabinets, tables and chairs in hallways and just general clutter.

We are waiting day after day for 9.0 subduction zone quake, just like the one that caused Fukushima, like the one written about in the New Yorker(that made people think for a few weeks, and then forget about again). 4-5 minutes of increasingly violent shaking. Some of our schools are not up to the current code and all could do a much better job of preparing.

Why the district and the state for that matter doesn't bring every school up to current codes or replace them, is beyond me.

Hamilton is new and shouldn't collapse, but with the tight stairwells, overcrowding and clutter, they need to raise awareness of safety procedures.

Safety is job one and as the schools move further into over-capacity, where is the safety training and where are the inspections?

Japan did OK with the quake, because they have rebuilt or retrofitted everything. The tsunami was the problem. We are like New Zealand where in Christchurch the city was devastated by the kind of quake we are expecting on the Seattle fault, which will be horrendous as well, although nothing like the big one offshore.

Earthquakes aren't a maybe thing, they will happen, the maybe is only whether today, tomorrow, next week or 150 years. There is a large state-wide drill coming in June to simulate the 9.0 massive quake. SPS would do well to use the opportunity to do the low-cost upgrades of securing cabinets and dangerous objects that will fly through the air in a big shake.

Been through a few down in SoCal and it's scary stuff. People up here are way more in denial.


Anonymous said...

great -- and at Cascadia they put a bunch of 2nd graders up on the top floor....

shifty buildings

Unknown said...

Lincoln has had some earthquake retrofits (you can see some of the bracing from the outside).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous@ 10:43 & 10:57 AM--

It was stated that:
"There was a secondary discussion about capacity where the fire code was brought up. Basically, the assertion is that the fire safety limits are way beyond the buildings current students and the fire department will not prevent overcrowding."

I don't read this at all as the building meeting safety codes. Reference a building code and show me how it meets the code. They need to prove this to us based upon the occupancy type of the building, provide the details and information.

There are a number of codes that would need to be met & the capacity information is not clear. The "temporary" certificate of occupancy (which expired years ago btw) leaves many areas blank. The building has never received a final inspection or certificate. An orchestra class has 65 kids and one door to exit. Does that meet code? Let's see the facts.

Benjamin Leis said...

re: fire codes. I'm sorry if that was unclear. During this part of the meeting, folks asked if the building would meet the fire safety codes. There was a discussion and a few people in the room were emphatic that it would. On the one hand, there was no rep from the Fire Dept. or Facilities present so I can't confirm whether what they said was true. On the other hand, having gone through this exercise two years ago with other buildings it certainly seems possible. If you want to follow up further, I'd direct an email to Flip Herndon or the Fire Marshal's Office for confirmation.

Wallingford mom said...

Any discussion of the impact of Lincoln High School opening in 2019? Who would go there? What programs are planned for there? Would students at other high schools be moved in their 11th and 12th grades to populate the new Lincoln?

Anonymous said...

Benjamin-- There are multiple codes that would need to be met depending upon building type according to the fire marshal's office. The city planning dept is supposed to set the capacity and issue the final certificate.Facilities is supposed to request final inspection. As far as I can tell, that never happened as there is no final certificate. The temporary certificate (which expired years ago) leaves many areas of capacity blank. Facilities needs to request to get a permanent inspection done.
- concerned

Anonymous said...

Update from this week's HIMS newsletter regarding the proj Fall 2016 student increase at HIMS:

To handle the overload, Seattle Public Schools is looking at two options:

Putting portables on the outside playtop

Adding a Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) to one of the North Seattle middle schools, like Whitman, as a precursor to the opening of Eagle Staff. Seattle Public Schools has stated that this option is unlikely given the expense of setting up an HCC cohort

Benjamin Leis said...

I wonder if anything has changed with respect to portables. I can think of a few times that I've heard the city prohibited that from happening.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that with all the city is asking SPS for in regard to preK space, they are considering giving a little back to SPS for capacity...


Anonymous said...

If they put portables on the outside playtop, where are the kids supposed to go after they eat? Hamilton doesn't have a field, and the gym will be in use (PE classes).

One possibility is for the city to allow them to use Wallingford Playfield, but the park is subject to frequent closures due to field conditions. Will they let kids go over to the playground part, too? Can they get an agreement to use the tennis courts for non-tennis play? Will there be paid staff supervision to monitor kids and deal with any emergencies that might occur?

If the City won't allow this usage-or the district won't provide the additional funding to make it feasible--would Hamilton they let kids roam the halls and hang out in classrooms instead? Right now they are restricted to a small area inside, but if all the outside play is banned, they'd need more room. PE classes are already crowded, but could they find a way to have no PE during 4th period, so kids could use the gym?

Sardine City

Anonymous said...

Sardine city-HIMS needs a viable solution for next year. Portables will have to work. Being another hundred over current enrollment as they are projecting will not work. They are already one of the most over-enrolled in the city. Capacity is 850, they are expecting 1200. I am guessing the principal is working on addressing where kids will go after they eat. Visiting Ingraham, I was surprised to learn that kids eat lunch and hang out informally in hallways all around the school. This is because they do not have a lunchroom large enough to accommodate the students.
- ballard mom

Marianne Bryan said...

I have a daughter in 7th grade at HIMS Spectrum. She's 2 years ahead in math, getting a 99-100% in GenEd science, yet there are no science advanced learning opportunities for her next year. Personally, I find this highly irresponsible of SPS. The answer given by the science teachers as noted above is not even an answer. Why can't students in Spectrum take HCC science? Why the discrimination?

Any other outraged Spectrum parents? I'm starting a new group for us to discuss Spectrum programming and advocate for our children.

Anonymous said...

I think WMS and JAMS allow some non-HCC qualified students to take more advanced science (and LA?), but based on performance in more advanced math classes. I think the district is headed toward single-subject qualification in middle school, so math advancement would allow for science advancement, and likewise for LA/SS. There really needs to be a more formal process, as my child has seen a greater range of skills in some classes, to put it kindly, and it's not clear how they ensure the placement is appropriate for each child.